Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]
Last week, as everyone in the US got excited about finally gaining access to Spotify, I sat there and watched, doing my best to ignore it. It wasn’t very easy. And Spotify isn’t the only service I wish I could use but can’t because I’m in one of the many countries that have been left out in the cold. I can’t listen to music on Pandora. I can’t watch TV shows on Hulu. Not with much success anyway, until now.
Enter TunnelBear, one of the easiest VPN programs I’ve ever used. TunnelBear gives you access to any sites that are geo-restricted, and it does it pretty much flawlessly. The app has no complicated settings, simply install, sign up for a free account, and TunnelBear will automatically create the network settings for you. The entire process won’t take more than 10 minutes.
When signing up for an account, you have the option of including your Twitter username. You’ll want to do this if you plan on using TunnelBear as a free service. Tweeting, “I want 1 GB of free data” to the Tunnel Bear twitter account will get you exactly that. The free TunnelBear plan gets you 500MB of data, while for $4.99 a month, you can get unlimited access.
Once you’ve launched the app, you can choose to set your location to the UK or the US, and you can turn the connection on and off. The app also displays how much bandwidth you have remaining.
And as far as VPN experiences go, TunnelBear is really good, and well worth upgrading to the paid version. Streaming music on Pandora was not affected whatsoever by the connection, and didn’t stall once.
An attempt to watch a video on Hulu and BBC Channel 4, while they both worked, weren’t as successful but I’d guess that really is down to not being on an incredibly fast Internet connection. If you’re on a slower connection, it would be best to just wait a while for the video to load before watching it.
The experience with TunnelBear is a far cry from any other VPN or proxy solutions I’ve tried using, where Hulu barely loaded, let alone a video actually playing.
TunnelBear is also great for more than just getting access to sites that would otherwise be off limits depending on your geographic location. It also provides an easy-to-use and cheap way to stay secure online. In countries like Syria, where Internet activity is often monitored, using an app like TunnelBear is an interesting alternative to Hotspot Shield and Tor.
TunnelBear is available as free download for Mac and Windows users.
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